Wolf News Roundup
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
January 22, 2015
Congressional members from the Great Lakes region have teamed up with U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis to draft a bill that would have Congress delist wolves in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Since wolves have been granted federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, only to be delisted and then relisted again due to litigation – repeatedly – a congressional fix that would preclude any further legal wrangling is being pushed by states dealing with thriving wolf populations.
Montana and Idaho are the only two states in the Lower 48 where wolves have been removed from ESA protection – and that took an act of Congress. The wolf reintroduction project that placed Canadian wolves into Yellowstone National Park and Central Idaho celebrated its 20-year anniversary this month.
In other wolf news, the controversy over Mexican wolves continues, as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has revised the "nonessential experimental" status of wolves in the Arizona and New Mexico, while revising the Mexican wolf's listing from that connected to the general wolf listing to its new status as an "endangered" subspecies.
The new Mexican wolf regulations provide for a fourfold expansion of the area where wolves are expected to occur, and a tenfold increase in the range where wolves can be released from captivity.
FWS notes, "The Mexican wolf is the rarest, southern-most occurring, and most genetically distinct subspecies of all the North American gray wolves." It's also the smallest existing subspecies.
The current Mexican wolf recovery program is based on captive breeding from a founding population of seven wolves, with only about 75 wolves currently living in the wild.